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Automatic number plate recognition (ANPR; see also other names below) is a mass surveillance method that uses

optical character recognition on images to read vehicle registration plates. They can use existing closed-circuit television or road-rule enforcement cameras, or ones specifically designed for the task. They are used by various police forces and as a method of electronic toll collection on pay-per-use roads and cataloging the movements of traffic or individuals. ANPR can be used to store the images captured by the cameras as well as the text from the license plate, with some configurable to store a photograph of the driver. Systems commonly use infrared lighting [1][2] to allow the camera to take the picture at any time of the day. ANPR technology tends to be regionspecific, owing to plate variation from place to place. Concerns about these systems have centered on privacy fears of government tracking citizens' movements, misidentification, high error rates, and increased government spending.  [edit]Other

names

ANPR is sometimes known by various other terms:      Automatic license-plate recognition (ALPR) Automatic vehicle identification (AVI) Car plate recognition (CPR) License-plate recognition (LPR) Lecture Automatique de Plaques d'Immatriculation (LAPI)

[edit]Development

history

ANPR was invented in 1976 at the Police Scientific Development Branch in the UK. Prototype systems were working by 1979, and contracts were let to produce industrial systems, first at EMI Electronics, and then at Computer Recognition Systems (CRS) in Wokingham, UK. Early trial systems were deployed on the A1 road and at the Dartford Tunnel. The first arrest through detection of a stolen car was made in [citation needed] 1981. [edit]Components The software aspect of the system runs on standard home computer hardware and can be linked to other applications or databases. It first uses a series of image manipulation techniques to detect, normalize and enhance the image of the number plate, and then optical character recognition (OCR) to extract the alphanumerics of the license plate. ANPR systems are generally deployed in one of two basic approaches: one allows for the entire process to be performed at the lane location in real-time, and the other transmits all the images from many lanes to a remote computer location and performs the OCR process there at some later point in time. When done at the lane site, the information captured of the plate alphanumeric, date-time, lane identification, and any other information required is completed in approximately 250 milliseconds. This information can easily be transmitted to a remote computer for further processing if necessary, or stored at the lane for later retrieval. In the other arrangement, there are typically large numbers of PCs used in a server farm to handle high workloads, such as those found in

the London congestion charge project. Some systems use infrared cameras to take [3][4][5][6][7] [8] [9][10][11][12] a clearer image of the plates. introducing small gaps in some letters (such as P and R) to make them more distinct and therefore more legible to such systems. The cameras used can include existing road-rule enforcement or closed-circuit television cameras. More complicated systems can cope with international variants. Often in such systems. Some license plate arrangements use variations in font sizes and positioning — ANPR systems must be able to cope with such differences in order to be truly effective. When Dutch vehicle registration plates switched to a different style in 2002. [edit]ANPR in mobile systems The Dubai police use three Petards ANPR cameras to monitor vehicles in front and either side of the patrol car The MiniHawk 2i – one of the most used mobile ANPR cameras in the UK . one of the changes made was to the font. [edit]Technology The font on Dutch plates was changed to improve plate recognition. which are usually attached to vehicles. ANPR uses optical character recognition (OCR) on images taken by cameras. though many programs are individually tailored to each country. as well as mobile units. there is a requirement to forward images to the remote server. and this can require larger bandwidth transmission media.

Installing ANPR cameras on law enforcement vehicles requires careful consideration of the juxtaposition of the cameras to the license plates they are to read. One of the biggest is that the processor and the cameras must work fast enough to accommodate relative speeds of more than 100 mph (160 km/h). allow law enforcement officers to patrol daily with the benefit of license plate reading in real time. there are noteworthy challenges related with mobile ANPRs. Using the right number of cameras and positioning them accurately for optimal results can prove challenging. In this case one camera may be turned backwards. Highway patrol requires forward-looking cameras that span multiple lanes and are able to read license plates at very high speeds. weather and angles between the cameras and the license plates. Most technically advanced systems are flexible and can be configured with a number of cameras ranging from one to four which can easily be repositioned as needed. City patrol needs shorter range. such as time of day. A system's illumination wavelengths can also have a direct impact on the resolution and accuracy of a read in these conditions. more durable processors that fit in the trunks of police vehicles. when they can interdict immediately. Recent advances in technology have taken automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) systems from fixed applications to mobile ones. and equipment must be small to minimize the space it requires. This equipment must also be very efficient since the power source is the vehicle battery. given the various missions and environments at hand. States with rear-only license plates have an additional challenge since a forward-looking camera is ineffective with incoming traffic. along with smaller. Despite their effectiveness. Scaled-down components at more cost-effective price points have led to a record number of deployments by law enforcement agencies around the world. lower focal length cameras for capturing plates on parked cars. a likely scenario in the case of oncoming traffic. Smaller cameras with the ability to read license plates at high speeds. Parking lots with perpendicularly parked cars often require a specialized camera with a very short focal length. [edit]Algorithms . Relative speed is only one issue that affects the camera's ability to actually read a license plate. Algorithms must be able to compensate for all the variables that can affect the ANPR's ability to produce an accurate read.A Merseyside Police car equipped with mobile ANPR.

Normalization – adjusts the brightness and contrast of the image. ALGORITHM There are six primary algorithms that the software requires for identifying a license plate: 1. 5. Character segmentation – finds the individual characters on the plates. Plate orientation and sizing – compensates for the skew of the plate and adjusts the dimensions to the required size. 3 and 4: The license plate is normalized for brightness and contrast. [edit]Difficulties Early ANPR systems were unable to read white or silver lettering on black background. 4. as permitted on UK vehicles built prior to 1973.Steps 2. and then the characters are segmented to be ready forOCR. usually because the plate is too far away but sometimes resulting from the use of a low-quality camera. . There are a number of possible difficulties that the software must be able to cope with. The complexity of each of these subsections of the program determines the accuracy of the system. 2. Plate localization – responsible for finding and isolating the plate on the picture. 3. Syntactical/Geometrical analysis – check characters and positions against country-specific rules. Optical character recognition. 6. some systems useedge detection techniques to increase the picture difference between the letters and the plate backing. A median filter may also be used to reduce the visual noise on the image. During the third phase (normalization). These include:  Poor image resolution.

Two cars from different countries or states can have the same number but different design of the plate. Lack of coordination between countries or states. [edit]Police enforcement Mobile ANPR cameras fitted to a New South Wales Police Force Highway Patrol vehicle. Poor lighting and low contrast due to overexposure. A different font. reflection or shadows. Circumvention techniques. to measure average vehicle speed over longer distances. particularly motion blur. eliminating the problem).      Blurry images. popular for vanity plates (some countries do not allow such plates. [edit]Other uses ANPR systems may also be used for/by:  Section control. An object obscuring (part of) the plate. quite often a tow bar. or dirt on the plate. [70] .

which determine traffic flow using the time it takes vehicles to pass [73] two ANPR sites Analyses of travel behaviour (route choice. to automatically recognize customers based on their license plate and offer them the items they ordered the last time they used the service. To assist visitor management systems in recognizing guest vehicles. Hotels. improving service to the customer.) for transport planning [74] purposes Drive Through Customer Recognition. Police and Auxiliary Police Car parking companies. a-la "Minority Report"-style billboards.        Border crossings Automobile repossessions [29][71] petrol stations to log when a motorist drives away without paying for their fuel. origin-destination etc. A marketing tool to log patterns of use Targeted advertising. [72] Traffic management systems.     .